Fisheries and Human Interaction

Fisheries and Human Interactions

Humans have occupied coastal habitats in greater concentrations over the last century and seal populations have been repopulating areas of the Northwest Atlantic that had seen their populations extirpated by humans. As a result, interactions between humans and seals have been increasing and are anticipated to continue to increase under current conditions.  In addition, changing climate conditions may bring about conditions that may affect these interactions. 

Human interactions with the seal populations in the Northwest Atlantic are longstanding and complicated.  While much anecdotal information has been generated over the centuries little data has been collected and analyzed to quantify these interactions thoroughly.  The data that has been collected has been primarily from fisheries and in general has not been collected in a standardized manner or for hypothesis-driven research related to human/seal interactions.

Management of natural resources and human activities will benefit from a greater understanding of the spatio-temporal overlap of seals and humans. Documenting and quantifying the extent and type of seal/human interactions will allow a better understanding of their ecological and socio-economic implications and provide critical data to resource managers. Before well informed decisions can be made, baseline data needs to be collected and analyzed.

These are key areas that the Fisheries and Human Interaction Working Group of NASRC would like to see addressed:

  1. Document and analyze spatio-temporal overlap between seals and human activities, including but not limited to:
    1. Beach use (public and private)
    2. Boating (recreational and commercial)
    3. Tourism
    4. Fishing (recreational and commercial)
    5. Industrial (energy)
    6. Land use and development
    7. Document and analyze social perspectives and the nature of interactions resulting from spatio-temporal overlap of seals and human activities
    8. Analyze the socio-economic implications of seal/human interactions
    9. Facilitate targeted outreach, collaboration and education with stakeholders, management and the public regarding interactions between humans and seals


Selected References/Links:

Baraff, L.S. and T.R. Loughlin. 2000. Trends and potential interactions between pinnipeds and fisheries of New England and the U.S. west coast. Marine Fisheries Review 62(4):1-39.

Bogomolni, A., G. Early, K. Matassa, O. Nichols and L. Sette. 2010. Gulf of Maine seals- populations, problems and priorities. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Technical Report 2010-06.

Bogomolni, A. L., K. R. Pugliares, S. M. Sharp, K. M. Patchett, C. T. Harry, J. M. LaRoque, K. M. Touhey, and M. Moore. 2010. Mortality trends of stranded marine mammals on Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts, USA, 2000 to 2006. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 88: 143-155.

Nichols, O.C., A. Bogomolni, E. Bradfield, G. Early, L. Sette and S. Wood. 2012. Gulf of Maine seals- fisheries interactions and integrated research. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Technical Report 2012-06.

Last updated: December 22, 2014